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09.07.2023, 07:06 offline quote 

The second round is set in the 2023 NBA playoffs. Eight teams () remain in the quest for the 2023 title, and each of the four second-round series has it's own form of intrigue. Lakers vs. Warriors -- the last series to get started -- has the biggest names with Stephen Curry leading the defending champions to the second round to face LeBron James, Anthony Davis and L.A. Elsewhere in the West, Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and the Suns are trying to topple the top-seeded Nuggets and two-time MVP Nikola Jokic.In the East, Joel Embiid's health clouds the outlook of the 76ers' matchup with the Boston Celtics, who are trying to win the conference for the second year in a row. The Heat and Knicks, meanwhile, are squaring off after they both pulled off first-round upsets.So what should fans expect in the second quiround? Below are our staff's picks for each series. Bill Reiter Brad Botkin James Herbert Colin Ward-Henninger Michael Kaskey-Blomain Jack Maloney Sam Quinn Jasmyn Wimbish Reiter's pick:Warriors in 6.This series has it all: Steph vs LeBron. Warriors vs Lakers. The shiny sixth-seed vs the resurgent seven-seed. And two of the last three NBA champions vying for a berth in the Western Conference Finals. The Lakers may be one of the NBA's best teams since the trade deadline, but it's the Warriors who have a proven track record in the postseason -- one that continues in this marquee matchup. Yes, LeBron is still LeBron, and his team has found new footing. But the defending champions have Stephen Curry at his best and a supporting cast that will overwhelm L.A. -- from Draymond Green's continued impact to Kevon Looney's ferocious presence to Klay Thompson's capabilities to take over games. With two GOATs battling each other, either side can win this thing. I'll take Steph and his more impre sive band of teammates. Botkin's pick:Warriors in 7. I think this is going to be an incredible series that comes down to home-court advantage, which the Warriors own. If Steve Kerr puts the ball in Stephen Curry's hands for enough pick and rolls, Anthony Davis is going to have to spend a good Johnny Damon Jersey chunk of this series defending outside the paint. That limits his rim protection and could allow for Kevon Looney to continue gobbling up offensive boards. Those are the Warriors' pros, but the Lakers have big wing defenders and, well, LeBron James, who can still be the best player in this series if his jumper is on. Really a tight call. But I'll take the defending champs to move on. Herbert's pick:Warriors in 6. The Lakers are going to *completely* ignore Golden State's non-shooters and try to keep Anthony Davis in the paint. The Warriors are familiar with this kind of defense, though, and my prediction is a bet on them overcoming it (and a bet against Los Angeles' role players thriving the way they did against Memphis).Ward-Henninger's pick:Warriors in 5. The Warriors were tested in their first-round series against the Kings, and they've come out better for it. Steve Kerr has figured out his reliable rotation pieces, and it will be much easier to lean into the Draymond-Looney frontcourt against a bigger team like the Lakers. The Kings offense had two players who are Golden State kryptonite -- fast, penetrating guards -- and the Lakers are limited in that area. Sure, AD and LeBron will be a handful, but the Warriors are much more prepared to handle that kind of attack. I'm anticipating a short series. Kaskey-Blomain's pick: Warriors in 7. This series has the potential to be epic thanks to the presence of two all-time greats in LeBron James and Steph Curry competing against each other again. While both teams have plenty of playoff experience, the Warriors have more collective postseason experience as a unit, and that could play a big factor. While the Lakers were largely constructed at the trade deadline this season, the Warriors have been playing together for years, and that gives them an edge. While Steph and LeBron are still playing elite-level basketball, Curry has a bit more help around him.Maloney's pick:Warriors in 7. This has all the makings of a fascinating series. There's the obvious LeBron James vs. Steph Curry narrative, but also a distinct style showdown featuring the Lakers' interior approach against the Warriors' 3-point attack. Neither team was all that impre sive in the regular season, but both seemed to have figured things out to an extent in recent weeks. In the end, this pick comes down to two things: not wanting to bet against Steph Curry when he's playing at this level and the Warriors having home-court advantage.Quinn's pick: Lakers in 6. The Lakers have been so dominant on their home floor this postseason that, if they can manage to steal a single road game, they'll be in good shape to take care of busine s against the Warriors, who had an 11-30 road record this season. Game 1 provides just such an opportunity. The Warriors went 7-13 in games with a rest disadvantage this season, and the Lakers should be well rested after finishing the Grizzlies off on Friday. Expect the Lakers to take Game 1 and home-court advantage to prevail from there. Wimbish's pick:Warriors in 6. I was more impre sed by Golden State in the first round than I was by the Lakers, primarily because of the opponents they played Babe Ruth Jersey , but also because I trust the Warriors role players to step up more consistently than L.A.'s supporting cast. You can go either way in saying it's hard to pick against LeBron or Steph, but Curry's 50-ball in Game 7 gives him the edge to me. Bill Reiter Brad Botkin James Herbert Colin Ward-Henninger Michael Kaskey-Blomain Jack Maloney Sam Quinn Jasmyn Wimbish Reiter's pick: in 6. The sudden rediscovery of its ability to score points does not hold, and , extraordinary though he is in the postseason, cannot carry Miami to four more wins. This is in part the case because the Knicks' sudden rediscovery of its defense does remain - this is, even after a mediocre regular season on the defensive side of things, a Tom Thibodeau team. , to many of our embarra sment, is indeed a star, presence on the boards is legit, can be a game changer and is a secret ingredient.Botkin's pick:Knicks in 6. I'm not betting on Miami's 3-point shooting to hold up, and I think New York has more ways of generating offense. Mitchell Robinson's offensive rebounding could be a huge swing factor in a tight matchup. Herbert's pick:Heat in 6. The Heat can't count on shooting as well as they did in the first round, but their approach should be the same and I'm not in the busine s of doubting Jimmy Butler (or Erik Spoelstra, for that matter) right now. While the Knicks might find some succe s matchup-hunting, it's difficult to imagine them owning the boards the way they did against Cleveland.Ward-Henninger's pick:Heat in 7. Jimmy Butler, Jimmy Butler, Jimmy Butler. The Knicks are a great story and have the toughne s to match Miami, but as excellent as Jalen Brunson has been, the Heat still have the best player in the series. Not to mention Miami's advantage in deep playoff experience and the confidence they're riding after demoralizing the top-seeded .Kaskey-Blomain's pick:Heat in 6. This series will be a battle between two teams that can get after it on the defensive end and muck the game up. The Heat have more postseason experience, though, and they have the best player in the series in Jimmy Butler, who took his game to another level in the first Randy Johnson Jersey round. As a result, they have the advantage. Maloney's pick: Knicks in 6. What Jimmy Butler did in the first round was remarkable, but the Heat needed a Giannis injury, some unsustainable shooting, and two ma sive fourth-quarter collapses to win that series. I'm not sure they can keep this up, especially against a stubborn Knicks defense masterminded by Butler's former coach, Tom Thibodeau.Quinn's pick:Knicks in 7. Jimmy Butler is averaging 38.5 points per game in his past seven playoff games. I'm almost positive that it isn't sustainable. Milwaukee played conservative drop-coverage against him. Tom Thibodeau will get far more aggre sive. The Heat shot 34.4% from deep during the regular season, but are up to 45% in the playoffs. This series screams regre sion even if Julius Randle is hobbled.Wimbish's pick: Heat in 6. So playoff Jimmy Butler is back! Mi sing will hurt Miami more in this series, but there's a chance could be hobbled to start the series for the Knicks, and that feels like a bigger lo s. I'm trusting Miami in what is sure to be a low-scoring affair. Bill Reiter Brad Botkin James Herbert Colin Ward-Henninger Michael Kaskey-Blomain Jack Maloney Sam Quinn Jasmyn Wimbish Reiter's pick: in 5. Embiid is banged up. The Sixers are soft. And the Celtics, despite a surprisingly tough series versus Atlanta, are by far the East's best team. Boston boasts a top-three offensive and defensive rating, historically a hallmark of would-be champions. And their experience in last year's Finals, and their depth and star power, overwhelm Philly.Botkin's pick: Celtics in 5. When the Celtics are committed to attacking and moving offensively, they are just a better team on both sides of the ball than the Sixers. They are more versatile, deeper, and they have far more options for creating consistent half-court offense. This is even before I factor in knee situation.Herbert's pick:Celtics in 6. Boston is deeper, more balanced and more athletic than the Sixers. It has more lineup flexibility, more scheme versatility and more playmaking options. The big, game-changing advantage that Philadelphia has is Joel Embiid ... but he's dealing with a sprained LCL. If he's not himself, uh-oh. Ward-Henninger's pick:Celtics in 5. Joel Embiid went for 52 points in the Sixers' only win over Boston during the regular season, and I'm betting that he won't be able to do that in four games this series on a bum leg. I don't trust to pick up the slack, and the Celtics have done a good job of limiting and while their own role players have thrived. Unle s Embiid is healthier than I expect, this is going to be a short series.Kaskey-Blomain's pick: in 7. I could come to regret this pick, but I'm going with Philly in this series thanks mainly to the presence of Joel Embiid. He's going to command a ton of attention from Boston, and Philadelphia upgraded the roster around him, so there are now other guys who can capitalize on that. If Embiid isn't at full strength, things will slant in Boston's favor, but if he can play at the level he did throughout the season, he'll be the difference-maker.Maloney's pick: Celtics in 6. The Celtics are deeper, more athletic, shoot more 3s and have homecourt advantage. This matchup already favored the Celtics, and now Joel Embiid is going to be operating at le s than 100 percent, which le sens the one advantage the Sixers had. Give me the Celtics here. Quinn's pick: Celtics in 7. I feel a bit queasy having watched Boston's defense collapse against Trae Young, but James Harden, in his current state, is no Trae Young. If Joel Embiid were healthy this might be a different story, but without their typically dominant pick-and-roll at their disposal, I just can't trust Philadelphia to score enough to keep up with a Boston team that shoots this well.Wimbish's pick:Celtics in 6. Joel Embiid's injury is concerning, and simply put, if he's anything le s than 100% then the Sixers are in trouble. Based on that alone I'm picking Boston. Bill Reiter Reggie Jackson Jersey Brad Botkin James Herbert Colin Ward-Henninger Michael Kaskey-Blomain Jack Maloney Sam Quinn Jasmyn Wimbish Reiter's pick: in 7. This is a series of question marks. Can Denver's inconsistent defense buckle down enough to at times confound the Suns? Is Denver ready to break through - can dominate, can be a star, can deliver an overwhelmingly offensive barrage for one or two games? Will short duration in Phoenix, and the work-in-progre s that is the team's chemistry, short circuit all that team's talent? Is going to continue his playoff excellence? Best gue s is the Suns talent just bests Denver's time together. Botkin's pick: in 7. When the Kevin Durant trade was made, I tabbed the Suns as the title favorite. I'm going back on that. I think they lose the math game against Denver, which is loaded with 3-point shooters and a fully-back Jamal Murray. The Suns, great as their midrange triumvirate is, won't make enough 2s to keep up.Herbert's pick: Suns in 7. There's nothing meaningful to take from the regular-season series, and the only thing I feel comfortable predicting here is that tons of points will be scored. I like Denver's offensive system much more than Phoenix's at the moment, but I am ever so slightly leaning toward the Suns finding a more reliable two-way formula as the series goes on.Ward-Henninger's pick:Suns in 6. Nobody can stop Nikola Jokic, but has done a decent job of containing him in the past. But mostly, this prediction is a bet that Denver's defense won't be able to stop Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and in 4 out of 6 games. The Suns will have their own struggles with defense and depth, but I have to ride the top-end scoring talent.Kaskey-Blomain's pick:Suns in 7. This should be an entertaining, high-scoring series, but ultimately I'm rolling with Phoenix thanks largely to the presence of Kevin Durant, who is the most proven playoff performer on both sides in the series. Plus, Devin Booker has been playing some excellent basketball so far this postseason, and while Denver is talented, they will struggle to keep up with the output of those two superstars.Maloney's pick: Nuggets in 7. When the Suns' offense starts clicking it's a sight to see, and Kevin Durant and Devin Booker will win them multiple games in this series. But their lack of options outside their top-four players is a real concern, and their inability to slow down the Clippers in Matt Holliday Jersey the first round despite the Kawhi Leonard and Paul George injuries doesn't bode well for this series. Ultimately I think the Nuggets' depth and willingne s to shoot more 3s will be the difference in what figures to be a shootout.Quinn's pick: Nuggets in 7. A more experienced group together might have better answers for its obvious defensive flaws, but if Torrey Craig hadn't shot 55.6% from 3 in the first round, Phoenix might still be battling with the Clippers right now. The Suns just offer too many safe spots defensively between Craig, Josh Okogie, and even Chris Paul, who teams have been begging to shoot lately. In a year this series might be more interesting. For now, bet on experience.Wimbish's pick: Suns in 7. This has the makings of a really entertaining series, but I'm favoring the Suns. Even if the Nuggets manage to contain Devin Booker, who has been playing out of his mind in the postseason, there's still Kevin Durant to worry about. Click here Click here Click here

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